Photo courtesy of IMSA

Gidley returns to Daytona, excited for next racing chapter

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Memo Gidley’s accident in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona left him with significant nerve pain and a long road to recovery before resuming regular traveling, or resuming his day job as a driver.

But he took his biggest step yet on the road back to Daytona today, with his first trip back to Daytona International Speedway as a guest of IMSA on Thursday.

Gidley sustained the accident in 2014, when he hit Matteo Malucelli’s Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia. Gidley was driving a GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP and needed to be cut out from the car by rescue workers in order to be extricated.

That began a long, painful recovery process where the first year was extraordinarily difficult, the second year better but still featuring some nerve pain, and now the third year his best yet – and the closest he has been to 100 percent at the moment.

“It’s been three years since the accident, and I’d say two years of hell before last year was significantly better,” Gidley told assembled reporters in Daytona.

Gidley then ran through a laundry list of people to thank, notably Jim France and the France family, for their support in the process.

“I want to say thank you to Jim France. I knew he was a heckuva guy before this accident, because he’d always stop and chat,” Gidley explained.

“But what he did for myself after the accident, visits in the hospital, support for my wife, mom and team. It starts from the top and works itself down from everyone in IMSA from there.”

Gidley had primarily focused on California for any traveling the last couple years. After he was released from Halifax Health in Daytona Beach, he flew home to California, but said the trip home was a struggle.

His only visits to race tracks prior to Daytona this week were at Sonoma Raceway, when he visited his friends and colleagues in the Verizon IndyCar Series community.

“The only reason I went there is because it was local,” Gidley said. “The first time I went there, a year after the accident, I was driving over reflectors and it hurt. I always had to lie down and I’d needed to go to the medical center. The second year I was much more mobile, and saw my IndyCar friends. This is the first time I’ve been healed and come to a track, and that’s why I’m out here.”

Gidley called the condensed version of his recovery “gnarly,” noting how much time he spent on his stomach needing to eat while laying face down. The cumulative effort following the surgeries – the last of which for his back took place roughly a year ago – along with things such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal treatment and cryotherapy, helped move Gidley forward.

“The nerve pain was horrible at first,” he said. “Now, I don’t feel much of anything from the pain standpoint. Two years ago, I wouldn’t be sitting here. A year ago, I could, but it’d be very painful.

“I’m always about living large and living for the moment.”

Gidley is a race car driver through and through though. He’s spent a lot of time in his go-kart, which is the only race car he’s been able to drive because his FIA license needs to be renewed.

The journey to get back to a car is what is motivating him though, and what has got him through the process.

“(Getting back) is definitely all worth it. I want to get back into the race car,” he said.

“I got strong, got healed and got happy. The nerve pain isn’t fully gone, but I’m back to working on a daily basis.”

Robert Hight extends Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons

Photo: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery
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MORRISON, Colo. (AP) Robert Hight beat Tommy Johnson Jr. on Sunday in the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway to extend his Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons.

Hight topped Johnson with a 3.995-second pass at 317.57 mph in a Chevrolet Camaro SS for his 38th career victory.

“We definitely struggled through the first few rounds and we were lucky to get those round wins, but I have a great team who figured things out and helped get me to the winner’s circle,” Hight said. “It’s definitely a long-time coming and we hadn’t had much luck, but today we had some luck and we hope this continues throughout the Western Swing.”

Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Drew Skillman in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Brown edged teammate and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett with a 3.792 at 319.82. He has three victories this season to push his career total to 64.

Skillman raced to his second straight victory and the fifth of his career, beating points leader Bo Butner with a 6.916 run at 198.15 in a Camaro.

Krawiec topped Matt Smith with a 7.145 at 188.28. The Harley-Davidson rider has two victories this season and 38 overall.

Sauber confirms Matsushita for Hungary test as well

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Honda junior driver Nobuhiro Matsushita will have a run with Sauber F1 Team on the second day of the Hungarian Grand Prix post-race week test, in the team’s C36 chassis.

Sauber’s engine selection for 2018 is up in the air. While the team announced a switch from year old Ferraris to Hondas, this was done under prior team principal Monisha Kaltenborn and rumors have persisted the deal may be off, or wasn’t fully done in the first place.

That Matsushita is running at this test for his first day in an F1 car – Gustav Malja will run on day one – could indicate the Honda switch isn’t yet a dead topic.

“When I was four years old, I was fascinated by Michael Schumacher, watching him racing in Formula 1. Since then my dream was to become a Formula 1 driver,” he said. “I am very excited about my first Formula 1 test and I am really looking forward to driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the Hungaroring – it is a great opportunity for me. I hope it will be a productive day for the team as well as for myself, so that I can learn as much as possible. I would like to thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this happen.”

New team boss Frederic Vasseur, formerly of Renault, gave his take on the test.

“I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula 1 car. Ever since his debut in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year. With this Formula 1 test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day.”

Renault confirms Robert Kubica will test in Hungary

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Renault Sport F1 Team has confirmed Robert Kubica will make his return to a current Formula 1 car in the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, which will only continue to fuel the hype train for a possible race return.

The Pole has undertaken two tests in recent weeks with older cars but this day in the Renault R.S.17 will provide the team a chance to evaluate him in current machinery to gauge his race level fitness.

It’s a story that has got the F1 world buzzing in recent weeks as Kubica, injured in a rally accident before the 2011 season, has made a comeback to restart his racing career.

Poor Nicholas Latifi, also confirmed for the test that runs the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Hungarian Grand Prix, will be undoubtedly overlooked as a result.

Jolyon Palmer will race in Hungary this weekend at least but whether the Brit continues beyond the summer break that follows afterwards remains a question mark.

Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean to launch cookbook

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Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean may be one of the sport’s most promising talents on-track, but he also has a burning passion off it: cooking.

Grosjean may have been spent a good part of this year cooking his brakes, but you’ll now be able to cook bakes instead…

F1’s resident foodie is set to release a cookbook alongside wife Marion Jolles in the coming weeks, as announced on his Facebook page.

Grosjean currently sits 13th in the F1 drivers’ championship with 18 points to his name, helping Haas to match the points total from its debut season after just 10 races in 2017.